Friday, March 07, 2014

A TRIBUTE to A TEACHER: Mr. "Jay" Wagner

"MR. JAY" (WAGNER): A CELEBRATION of A PEACE EDUCATOR
Jay Wagner

(MY HUMBLE WORDS TO THE WAGNER FAMILY)

I do not know what to write today
and how to honor you for those days you taught me
what sharing culture and humanity means;
grieving I was for days a few;

You left us just when I had the thoughts
of collecting the memories
of who you were
and what brought you
to a world you had come to love,
in a place where many did not dare venture into;

I shall stand like a good teacher
like you
in honor of you
and in celebration of a "gift" I would expect
what it was you never knew;

Strange was the land you chose to be in
Those times when chants of "peace not war"
was louder that it had ever been;

The windy city of Chicago you hailed from
Thousands of miles you came to us;
little did you know what your gift of love
had made us become;

Peace was your mission
You gave us more than glimpses of a vision
At such a tender age
With such a deep sense of curiosity
You shared with us stories
of what America is like behind those Hollywood movies

Blessed I was to be with you
in all those years
when learning Maths was not like roaming in my kampong
and going into the rivers catching ikan puyu
You taught me well
Though I never did become a geek with a beautiful mind
But still endless was my contemplation of the nature of numbers
and taught about Descartes, and Poincare' and what Einstein ate;

Unschooled and unsophisticated we were as kids
Not knowing what a first name and a last name, let alone prefix or a suffix
We called you "Mr. Jay" all the way
Instead of "Mr. Wagner" as the Americans
and Frank Sinatra would say;

Ahhh .. kampong kids we were
Blessed with an American teacher who once worked with a company called "Caterpillar"
Ahhh ... everyday in hot and short pants we were
waiting for you to ride into our rugged road into campus
in your Easy Rider Norton golden brown two-wheeler of a scrambler
and we at times cheer and wished one day we too will ride those rugged bikes from Kuantan right up to Mount Kilimanjaro

Great it was those days when life was simple
like living way up in the Appalachian jungle
only that it was in a land where spirits and ghosts good and evil
love to possess dwellers of the ashram, those boys and girls;

Mr. Jay Wagner
our beloved Maths teacher
I could still remember that one afternoon
you brought us to your house a barbecuin'
and lo' and behold my eyes saw on your living room wall
a huge painting of the Beatles
You told me you painted it on your own
A spirit of peace you possess, I was sure home-grown

You taught us with a lot of patience
We were kids of simple folks
Who grew up to become quite useful blokes
With a love of american music, like rock and jazz, and blues, of course that thing called "folk"

A peacemakers and not just a teacher you were
With others we fondly remember
Alan Sari
Thomas Ainlay Jr.
David Erikson
and all other hippie-teachers of the Kennedy generation

Mr. Jay our beloved teacher
You left so soon
Many are still in tears
But all these years you had been a friend
From far you kept in touch as a facebook friend

We were supposed to one day meet
in the middle of New York's Times Square
like in that High Noon movie
in a gun-slinging moment so sweet
to settle some scores --
you a Republican and
I from the Party of Utter Confusion
--as american we are as a german and a mexican

But I know you are now smiling
from way up high in Heaven
looking at me
and wondering
what is that student of yours doing
in that egg-like structure of Osamu Noguchi
in that Storm King Art valley

We will miss you Sir
Our Mr. Jay we love
and we will fondly remember

But I must tell you what that special "gift" I secretly took from you
One that will never be taken away
as long as this hand writes
and writes
It is your style of WRITING I should say
those slants and how the letters danced
as American as they are fun
I thank thee, Mr. Jay
I shall not worry about not remembering you
You have become a part of me

But more than this
Much more than this
That you have left me
and many you have set free
is the gift
of LOVE
of HOPE
of PEACE
of HUMANITY

Rest in peace our beloved teacher and friend ...

-- Azly Rahman, December 7, 2102

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